Ephesians 4

Yes, I’ve been rather quiet on here lately. And yes, it absolutely has something to do with the fact that I’m dating a brilliantly beautiful and wonderful woman and like to spend time visiting her and talking to her. And I’m absolutely okay with that because God’s teaching me so much about Himself through her.

But while you have my attention and I’m taking the time to blog, let’s take a moment to look at what the Bible really has to say about the Christian life. This certainly isn’t all it has to say, but it’s an important aspect.

Check out Ephesians 4:11-15 from the Amplified:

11 And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers.

12 His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church),

13 [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.

14 So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, [gamblers engaged] in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead.

15 Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

Before I reflect, let me encourage you to take the time to really meditate upon and consider what the Bible is saying when reading it. I often get my daily Bible reading in without much dedicated contemplation on the weightiness of it’s living and active words. And I think this is a common occurrence, especially among us who grew up in Christian homes and have had access to the word of God like we have access to bread and water; we can take it for granted.

One of the things I’m growing to love about reading out of the Amplified (thanks for the gift, Sherry. I’m using it more than I expected), is that it more or less forces you to read the Word slowly. And the “shades of meaning” of words and phrases it offers forces you to consider the full weight of words.

Even just a single, extra word of emphasis can drive home a point in a new way. Consider Eph. 4:29 in the Amplified:

Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.

The addition of “ever” in the first part of the verse really jumped out to me. Adding it doesn’t change the meaning of the verse. One could say “ever” is implied when Paul starts the verse with “Let no”. But adding “ever” reminds us that God’s Word doesn’t suggest how to handle situations; it commands how to handle them. And reading the verse in the Amplified offered me a fresh perspective and new conviction on this verse.

Now, back to verses 11-15. If the intention we have for our spiritual development is anything less than arriving at “the standard height of Christ’s own perfection, the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him”, then we’re in sin. That is God’s will for our lives and when we know God’s will and don’t desire and pursue His will, then we’re in sin. We are to “grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”

Christ is the standard. We know this, but I think we sometimes look at it from a narrow perspective. I think we often just look at Christ as the standard against which we’ll be judged. As in, when all was said and done for Jesus, He was able to say “It is finished;” He completed 100 percent of which God sent him to complete. We’ll be lucky to complete some small fraction of what God’s will was for our lives. And so we’ll have fallen short of the standard Jesus set and we’ll be judged accordingly (though Christ’s blood allows us to be judged “Not Guilty”).

But let’s consider that Jesus is the standard God is using to transform our lives. Our destination is Jesus. The original model we’re being replicated after is Jesus Christ. God’s intent isn’t to make us better people; His intent is that we manifest Jesus’ very hands, neck and feet here on the Earth. This absolutely must be our intent: to be conformed into the image of Christ no matter what kind of sacrifice it demands.

It’s essentially the same thing, just looked at differently. Some may call this heresy, but I don’t believe God’s focus is stripping sin off our lives. I believe God’s focus is building us up into Christ. Sin falls off as He does so.

What does “the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ” (v13) look like? What did Paul mean when he said to “grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head” (v15)? Have you thought hard about that lately? It’s a very weighty statement. And I haven’t even mentioned yet that “His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints” (v12).

Yes. His desire is to perfect us. He didn’t call us to sit under the tutelage of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers so that we could simply learn how to manage our money better, or learn how to raise our kids better, or learn better workplace ethics. We’re to be discipled in the very ways of Jesus: In the way of unconditional love; in the way of meekness and humility; in the way of intimate fellowship with the Father; in the way of supernatural wisdom, discernment and revelation; in the way of miraculous physical healing and demonic deliverance; in the way of being filled and led by the Holy Spirit; in the way of prophecy; in the way of setting captives free.

Jesus didn’t come to help our lives; He came to take our lives and give us His. The wage we’ve paid because of sin was the death of ourselves. The gift we’ve been given upon accepting Christ is His resurrected life. He didn’t give us back our old lives, version 2.0. That old man is was killed and buried and is not to live again. He gave us His life, for “I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).

Joel Maust

Joel Maust is a blogger, marketer and photographer living in the beautiful Flathead Valley of northwest Montana.

3 Comments

amanda

about 9 years ago

Thanks for the post. What's Amplified? A version of the bible? I'd be intersted to hear what you think of it. Thanks!

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sherry

about 9 years ago

you're welcome. also - what a great blog! i really like the part about not teaching us about money or kids, but how to be made into His image. I think that's why so many people don't like our church. they don't want to be trained for active service. they either want to be satiated in ignorance-fueled bliss or they want to do the "safe", "nice" things. they are caught up in the stages of grief over their dead old man, and mostly get stuck in the denial stage. they don't believe he's dead - they think he's always there to comfort them. and he'll do it. but why do you want to keep that dead zombie flesh man alive when you can become like Christ? become like the one who is Light with no darkness at all?

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Joel

about 9 years ago

Amanda -- Yes, The Amplified Bible is a translation of the Bible. It's aim is to, according to my version's preface, "go beyond the traditional 'word-for-word' concept of translation and bring out the richness of the Greek and Hebrew languages... to reveal... any clarifying meanings that may be concealed by the traditional translation method." Since often a Greek or Hebrew word doesn't have a great English language equivalent, it expands words and phrases to encompass all the original word meant in the context in which it was used. I recommend it; it's great for study and for a change of pace in your daily reading.

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